“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Female Genital Mutilation in Egypt

Female Genital Mutilation in Egypt

In this morning’s Wall Street Journal Amr Bargisi suggested that Egypt is culturally unprepared for liberal democracy. Link here.

In his words: “But regardless of my own opinion, what is clear is that Egypt lacks the sort of political culture that can sustain a liberal democratic regime. The superficiality of the opposition's demands is matched only by the absurdity of the regime's discourse. Without knowledge of the likes of Locke and Burke, Hamilton and Jefferson, my country is doomed to either unbridled radicalism or continued repression.”

And that is barely the half of it. It’s one thing to have missed out on Locke and Jefferson. The sad truth is that 35% of Egyptians are illiterate. Among women, the number rises to 45%.

I found these statistics in the Spengler column in the Online Asian Times. I am grateful to the anonymous commenter who posted in on this blog yesterday. Link here.

The article begins with a sober analysis of the role that food prices have played in the current protest demonstrations.

And then, it takes a turn toward the cultural, and, unfortunately, toward unspeakable horrors.

For all of the discussions and debates we have been having about Egypt, how many of us know that Egyptians systematically mutilate the genitals of their daughters?

According to Spengler, upwards of 90% of females in Egypt have been genitally mutilated. Other sources put the number closer to 80%.

Do you believe that a culture that practices this form of savagery is about to transform itself into a liberal democracy? Do you think that this problem is going to be solved once people gain the right to vote? Anyone who believes that Egypt is seeing a revolution that will lead to a liberal democracy should answer those questions.

Hearing Barack Obama's clarion calls for human rights in Egypt, Spengler asks: “Does Obama think that genital mutilation is a human rights violation? To expect Egypt to leap from the intimate violence of traditional society to the full rights of a modern democracy seems whimsical.”

Whimsical? I fear that Spengler has toned down his rhetoric more than he should have. A culture that systematically mutilates young girls is not going to advance down the road to human freedom and dignity any time soon.

A while back Lt. Col. Ralph Peters was being interviewed on a television show. When asked what the Taliban were fighting for, Peters replied: The Taliban will fight to the death for their right to beat their wives.

It may sound a bit glib, but it contains a basic truth about the culture the Taliban want to install in Afghanistan.

Now, what if the average Egyptian is protesting and demonstrating because he wants to enjoy the right to continue to abuse his daughters.

The next time you are tempted to jump on the Egyptian freedom train and to praise their glorious Revolution, ask yourself what these people want to do with their freedom?

And the next time you decide to direct your most venomous emotions against Pres. Mubarak, remind yourself that he and his wife have been trying to outlaw this savagery. Would you consider that to be an oppressive action? Even though it certainly defies the will of the people?

As Spengler explains, the Egyptian people have openly rebelled against the Mubaraks over this issue for years now. In his words: “In fact, the vast majority of Egyptians has practiced civil disobedience against the Mubarak regime for years. The Mubarakgovernment announced a ‘complete‘ ban on genital mutilation in 2007, the second time it has done so - without success, for the Egyptian population ignored the enlightened pronouncements of its government. Do Western liberals cheer at this quiet revolt against Mubarak's authority?”

He continues: “Egypt is wallowing in backwardness, not because the Mubarak regime has suppressed the creative energies of the people, but because the people themselves cling to the most oppressive practices of traditional society. And countries can only languish in backwardness so long before some event makes their position untenable.”

We are all stirred by the Revolution narrative. And we are all sympathetic to people who are fighting for their dignity and their pride and their honor.

But, let’s not allow the media to lull us into complacency about what the average Egyptian understands by honor and dignity.

If he supports Sharia law, as most Egyptians do, then his warped notion of honor tells him that he has a right and duty to murder his teenaged daughter if she falls in love.

What is his concept of human dignity if it does not prevent him from insisting that his daughters be mutilated? Thus, that they suffer a horrifying form of child sexual abuse. As Spengler points out, the practice of genital mutilation is not intrinsic to Islam, but seems to derive from a specifically Egyptian variant of it.

If you cannot treat your daughters with dignity, then your claim for human dignity is a ploy, designed to dupe unsuspecting Westerners.

One can only wonder what American feminists have to say about this? To my knowledge they have had nothing at all to say? Wouldn't it be a good thing for this information to be disseminated more widely.

I cannot agree with Christopher Hitchens when he says that the Egyptian people have been shamed into fighting for their freedom and dignity. Link here. Surely, some Egyptians want to enter the modern world, but many of them are fighting for their right to continue more primitive cultural practices.

Shaming is a very powerful motivator. And yet, while we are applauding the courage of the Egyptians who are protesting against the tyrant, I cannot help but think of the little girls who have been and will be mutilated for no other reason than that they were born female.

And keep in mind that the tyrant who everybody despises today is also the tyrant who tried to put an end to the abuse.

Egyptians do need to be shamed, even more forcefully, into abandoning the disgraceful, undignified, and barbaric practice of female genital mutilation.

It would only be one small step toward liberal democracy, but it is certainly a necessary step.


  1. They're going to starve to death. Here's why: Stephen Leeb Video

    Stephen Leeb is one of the most common-sensical commentors I've run across.

  2. I don't know if the Arabs adopted Islam because they were crazy to start with, or if Islam made them crazy, but one thing is for sure: They Are crazy.

  3. Ron Paul:

    "“Foreign aid is taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries.”

  4. Rufus:
    You gotta watch this:
    Randall Wallace on Prayer and William Wallace

    I think he said his grandfather was "Ruf"

    Almost every line is a howl, esp the names of the Wallace menfolk from Lizardlick Tennessee!

  5. ...his first job was managing a band instrument playin animals.

    Including Pigarrachi and

    ...Pig played the piano, duck the drum, I think.

  6. viewed full screen.

    Esp the dark glasses story.

  7. No shit, you think?"

    Thu Feb 10, 6:10 pm ET
    PARIS (AFP) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared Thursday that multiculturalism had failed, joining a growing number of world leaders or ex-leaders who have condemned it.
    "My answer is clearly yes, it is a failure," he said in a television interview when asked about the policy which advocates that host societies welcome and foster distinct cultural and religious immigrant groups.
    "Of course we must all respect differences, but we do not want... a society where communities coexist side by side.
    "If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France," the right-wing president said.

  8. Don't worry the Pentagon has recently informed us that our strength lies in our diversity.

  9. ...That is until we are told differently, in the meantime do not believe your lying eyes.

  10. Two Californias

    Divesity? What diversity?

    Do diversity concerns, as in lack of diversity, work both ways? Over a hundred-mile stretch, when I stopped in San Joaquin for a bottled water, or drove through Orange Cove, or got gas in Parlier, or went to a corner market in southwestern Selma, my home town, I was the only non-Hispanic — there were no Asians, no blacks, no other whites.

    We may speak of the richness of “diversity,” but those who cherish that ideal simply have no idea that there are now countless inland communities that have become near-apartheid societies, where Spanish is the first language, the schools are not at all diverse, and the federal and state governments are either the main employers or at least the chief sources of income — whether through emergency rooms, rural health clinics, public schools, or social-service offices.

    An observer from Mars might conclude that our elites and masses have given up on the ideal of integration and assimilation, perhaps in the wake of the arrival of 11 to 15 million illegal aliens.


    Here are some general observations about what I saw (other than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in the rural South). First, remember that these areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming — to such an extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California, for all practical purposes has ceased to exist.

    On the western side of the Central Valley, the effects of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed. Manufacturing plants in the towns in these areas — which used to make harvesters, hydraulic lifts, trailers, food-processing equipment — have largely shut down; their production has been shipped off overseas or south of the border. Agriculture itself — from almonds to raisins — has increasingly become corporatized and mechanized, cutting by half the number of farm workers needed. So unemployment runs somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.

    Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World. There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards. The public hears about all sorts of tough California regulations that stymie business — rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections — but apparently none of that applies out here.

    It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate. Its public employees prefer to go after misdemeanors in the upscale areas to justify our expensive oversight industry, while ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral and beyond the ability of any inspector to do anything but feel irrelevant. But in the regulators’ defense, where would one get the money to redo an ad hoc trailer park with a spider web of illegal bare wires?

  11. ...he goes on and on, describing the devastation in what once was the garden of Eden (food wise, industriousness wise, and family values wise) for the nation.

    ...where he and I were born and raised.

  12. So Egypt allow daughters to be mutilated. In the U S A, we allow our daughters to kill their unborn, if the baby happens to be a slight inconvenience.

  13. In Egypt they murder born human beings. In the west women choose PERSONALLY what to do with thier bodies and end potential life. Life begins at birth that is why the faiths of the west give birth certificates not conception certificates. The church may claim that life begins at conception but it's actions say otherwise.

    Egypt also used weapons of mass destruction on civilians (just like us) but the everyday Arab in the street supports suicide bombers against Israel and the west. In America moone is pro-abortion, they are not advocates for abortion whereas in Islam clit chopping is highly promoted as a good thing..

    To equation the two is specious.

  14. To not equate the 2 or at least say what Egypt does is worse, is you picking and choosing what gives you a clear conscious.

    Life begins at conception. Always has, always will.

    Faith didn't give my mom my birth certificate, the hospital did.

  15. In America, no one is pro abortion? You are delirious.

  16. Gag Reflex said...
    In America, no one is pro abortion? You are delirious.

    I am pro-abortion, I want to provide free abortions to all arabs....

    I think we should be airlifting condoms for Palestinians..

    I think we should flood the arab world with porn...

    Teach arab/islamic women what a vibrator is...

    Time to unleash our greatest threat to Islam!

    The G-spot orgasm...

    A non-clitoral orgasm

    We need 500,000,000 "our bodies, our selfs" to be smuggled into the islamic world with good parts highlighted..

    the only issue?

    women in the moslem world are highly illiterate...

    better give each of them a small mirror and instructions...

  17. Don't be stupid, WiO, even a so-called "G spot" orgasm still relies on the intact state of the 8,000 nerve endings in the magic button.

  18. Don't be ridiculous, no one is pro-orgasm!


  19. Frau T said...
    Don't be stupid, WiO, even a so-called "G spot" orgasm still relies on the intact state of the 8,000 nerve endings in the magic button.


    After all 560 million moslem women cant all be wrong?

    And what would you know about a women's magic button, you being a transvestite and all...

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